Is there a link between male infertility and ibuprofen?

A study released last year surfaced reason to believe that there may be a link between ibuprofen use and male infertility.

You probably have a bottle of ibuprofen, which is also sold under the brand name Advil or Motrin, tucked away in your medicine cabinet, gym bag or desk. It’s handy for those times when you overdo it with yard work or go a little too hard in that pickup basketball game or develop a late-day tension headache.

But could that small dose of sweet, sweet pain relief be standing in the way of your fertility?

Probably not, unless you are regularly taking very high doses and have been for a very long time.

The study focused on a very small sample size of just 31 volunteers. Roughly half the volunteers were given 1200 milligrams of ibuprofen per day while the rest received a placebo. Within two weeks, the group taking the maximum daily dose of ibuprofen began showing signs of a condition known as compensated hypogonadism.

Compensated hypogonadism typically appears on older men, and results in lower sex drive and higher risks for heart attacks or strokes.

The effects reversed when the group ceased taking high doses of ibuprofen, but it’s unknown whether or not the effects are reversible if high doses of ibuprofen are consumed for months or years.

The study and its results point to a larger issue: we know little about the impacts of common drugs on male reproductive systems. Little to no testing of the effect of these types of drugs on the male reproductive system is done before they hit the market.

Studies have also shown links between other common drugs like cimetidine (marketed as Tagamet) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) and adverse impacts on the male reproductive system.

While the reproductive systems of young, otherwise healthy males may be able to recover from these adversities, the reproductive systems of older or less healthy men may not be so resilient, and these common over the counter drugs might pose more risk.

So what should men do to preserve their fertility? Start by having a conversation with your doctor. Review all of the medications you are taking, including both prescription and over the counter. Your doctor should be able to help you identify medications which may be impairing your fertility.

Questions? We’re always available to you for consultation. For more information about scheduling a new consultation with Dr. Christopher Montville, please visit here.

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Jenny Shanks

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